Bears in prime spot for NFL Draft moves


Bears in prime spot for NFL Draft moves

As a sort of P.S. to the NFL’s official layout of draft picks, in which the Bears have five in the first 127 and nine overall, it becomes more than simple musing to look closer at the Bears’ draft capital and what it means for GM Ryan Pace.

Specifically, Pace has positioned the Bears to be a player on the Apr. 28-30 draft weekend when teams are sitting by their phones waiting to mull over trade scenarios. In short, by creating flexibility, Pace has expanded the “available” in best-player-available.

[RELATED - NFL Draft: Bears have five of first 127 picks]

He and the Bears will not have to simply hope that certain players fall to them. They will have extra picks in meaningful ranges, and early in rounds, to be able to move up for targeted players.

This is potentially more than just early snowflakes in the annual blizzard of trade what-if’s; every team makes calls and receives calls before and during the draft regarding players and picks and moves up and down in myriad draft rounds. Much of it will be sound and fury signifying nothing.

But calls to and from the Bears are likely to be more than casual temperature-taking. Pace has created the capital to make incremental moves for players targeted for their combination of talent and position.

The reason: Pace traded Jon Bostic to New England and Jared Allen to Carolina, both last year and both for sixth-round picks in this year’s draft. Pace then parlayed that Patriots’ sixth into a fourth-rounder as part of the trade of Martellus Bennett to the New England.

Having a passel of picks does not automatically make you a dealer. Nor does it remotely ensure quality simply because you hold quantity; the Bears had five seventh-round picks in the 2008 draft, none of which were on the roster in 2009.

Tapping the brakes

Before assuming the Bears will be moving on draft days, realize that two informal, unofficial “factors” can come into play.

One is that teams typically can charge a little more for a seat involving the Top 10. In the 2012 draft GM Phil Emery was able to select Alshon Jeffery by moving up five slots for the price of one fifth-round pick. By contrast, the Minnesota Vikings needed to give up a mid-fifth-round’er to move up just one slot, ninth to eighth, in the 2014 draft.

Jacksonville needed to give up a mid-second-round’er in order to move up six slots in 2011.

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The second factor, intangible, is the target. Quarterbacks cost more in contract dollars and they also can cost more in draft capital. If the draft target is a quarterback, the team holding the first-round pick can charge more if the trading partner will be using that No. 1 on a quarterback.

Case studies

Looking at a sampling of recent Round 1 trades involving Top 15 picks, fourth-round picks are popular currency for teams looking to move up a pick or two from their initial spot:

Draft Team Traded In order to...
2015 San Diego 1st + 4th Move up - 17th to 15th
2014 Minnesota 1st + 5th Move up - 9th to 8th
2012 Jacksonville 1st + 4th Move up - 7th to 5th

Teams covet draft choices. So if the Bears find when their turn at No. 11 comes that there is still a handful of their targeted players available, they may deal down to add picks, with the knowledge that they can still secure one of their top prospects. Dealing down does produce quantity, if not always quality:

Draft Team Traded In order to...
2011 Washington 10th pick Move down to 16, pick up a No. 2

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Matt Nagy calls Kevin White a 'great weapon' with a new future

Former first-round pick Kevin White hasn't caught a break -- or a touchdown -- through the first three years of his career. He has more season-ending injuries than 100-yard games and after an offseason focused on upgrades at wide receiver, White's future in Chicago beyond 2018 is very much in doubt.

Ryan Pace declined the fifth-year option in White's rookie contract, making this a prove-it year for the pass-catcher who once resembled a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant during his time at West Virginia.

He's getting a fresh start by new coach Matt Nagy.

"He is healthy and he's really doing well," Nagy told Danny Kanell and Steve Torre Friday on SiriusXM's Dog Days Sports. "We're trying to keep him at one position right now so he can focus in on that."

White can't take all the blame for his 21 catches, 193 yards and zero scores through 48 possible games. He's only suited up for five. Whether it's bad luck or bad bone density, White hasn't had a legitimate chance to prove, on the field, that he belongs.

Nagy's looking forward, not backward, when it comes to 2015's seventh pick overall.

"That's gone, that's in the past," Nagy said of White's first three years. "This kid has a new future with us."

White won't be handed a job, however.

"He's gotta work for it, he's gotta put in the time and effort to do it," Nagy said. "But he will do that, he's been doing it. He's a great weapon, he's worked really hard. He has great size, good speed. We just want him to play football and not worry about anything else."

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

Nagy on Trubisky: 'He wants to be the best'

The Bears concluded their second round of OTAs on Thursday with the third and final set of voluntary sessions scheduled for May 29-June 1. Coach Matt Nagy is bringing a new and complicated system to Chicago, so the time spent on the practice field with the offense and quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been invaluable.

"We’ve thrown a lot at Mitch in the last 2 ½ months,” Nagy told Dog Days Sports’ Danny Kanell and Steve Torre on Friday. “He’s digested it really well.”

Nagy’s implementing the same system he operated with the Chiefs, an offense that brought the best out of Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. The former first-overall pick went from potential draft bust to MVP candidate under Andy Reid and Nagy’s watch.

Nagy admitted he and his staff may have been a little too aggressive with the amount of information thrust upon Trubisky so far.  It took five years to master the offense in Kansas City, he said, but the first-year head coach sees a lot of similarities between his current and past quarterbacks.

"These guys are just wired differently,” Nagy said when comparing Trubisky to Smith. “With Mitch, the one thing that you notice each and every day is this kid is so hungry. He wants to be the best. And he’s going to do whatever he needs to do. He’s so focused.”

Smith had the best year of his career in 2017 and much of the credit belongs to Nagy, who served as Smith’s position coach in each season of his tenure in Kansas City. He threw for eight touchdowns and only two interceptions during the five regular season games that Nagy took over play-calling duties last year.

Nagy said Trubisky has a similar attention to detail that Smith brought to the Chiefs’ quarterback room.

"Each and every detail that we give him means something. It’s not just something he writes down in a book. He wants to know the why,” Nagy said of Trubisky. “He’s a good person that is in this for the right reason. His teammates absolutely love him. It was the same thing with Alex [Smith] in Kansas City.”

A locker room that believes in its quarterback is a critically important variable for success, one that Nagy already sees exists in Chicago.

"When you have that as a coach and when you have that as being a quarterback, not everybody has that, and when you have that you’re in a good spot.”